Police in the Indian state of Punjab is investigating a brother-sister duo, believed to be currently living in Australia, who is accused of forgery and marrying each other in order to get Australian visas.
The pair’s cousin complained to the police earlier this month that they had forged a bank account, a passport and other identity documents in her name and used them for getting an Australian spouse visa.
Inspector Jai Singh, the officer-in-charge of Ballianwala Police Station in Bathinda District told SBS Punjabi that six members of their family including the brother-sister have been named in an official police report.
“According to our investigation, we have come to know so far that the brother was already a permanent resident of Australia and documents were forged to give his sister the identity of their cousin and they first got a marriage certificate from a gurdwara and it was registered in the sub-registrar’s office,” Inspector Singh said.
The alleged forgery and the marriage registration purportedly took place in the year 2012.
“The complainant is closely related to the accused family and used to live with them when they forged her identity documents. Our preliminary investigation has been able to establish most of the facts,” Inspector Singh added.
He said the brother-sister duo was living in Australia and their other family members, including their father, mother, brother and maternal grandmother who have been named as accused in the police report were on the run.
“We are carrying out raids to find them so that we can question them and complete our investigation. But so far, their whereabouts are unknown.”
The Department of Home Affairs told The Australian newspaper that all identity documents of spouse visa applicants are thoroughly checked and verified with relevant authorities of the issuing country, where required.
“But the department has no control over genuine passports issued by the foreign government which may have been issued based on fraudulent documents.”
Inspector Singh said though immigration-related identity fraud is not uncommon in his jurisdiction, he was “shocked” by the current case he is investigating.
“We all have heard of fake marriages taking place for going migrating overseas, even among close relatives, but this happening with a brother-sister was unheard of,” he told SBS Punjabi.
The Australian High Commission in India issued a warning to Indians wanting to migrate to Australia against fake marriage scams after a 32-year-old Indian national was charged over a fake-marriage visa scam in Sydney in November last year.
Australian Border Force said 164 spouse visa applications were refused after they were found to be linked to the fake marriage syndicate.
Concerns have also been raised over IELTS brides, particularly from Punjab, being used as a tool for migration to developed English speaking countries, such as Australia and Canada.
The term IELTS brides is used for women who are able to pass the English language test to secure admission in a course in these countries and then enter into a contract marriage with a man who would pay them for a visa as their dependent spouse. A Senate Committee was recently told that this practice was leading to dowry demands and domestic violence.
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